Employment News

Legislation to Protect Minnesota Women and Caregivers

Mar 06, 2014

“Caregiver discrimination” is a developing area in employment law and concerns legal protections for employees with family responsibilities. There is a growing need to protect the number of workers who are discriminated against for caregiving. Discrimination cases involving a caregiver may include:

  • A pregnant employee or an employee with childcare responsibilities
  • An employee with a spouse, child, parent or other family member with an illness or disability
  • An employee who is also responsible for provide care to an aging parent or relative

This area of law is increasingly important, as caregiving discrimination cases are on the rise in Minnesota and nationwide. With socio-economic shifts in the workforce, there are more working mothers and fathers responsible for both caring for their families and full time employment. There is also an increasing number of employees in a middle generation - responsible for both the care of their children as well as their aging parents.

Discrimination in these cases may involve failure to hire or promote, denial of benefits and interference with the FMLA, hostile work environment, retaliation or wrongful termination. Although employee caregivers have not been a specifically designated protected class under Minnesota law, a new bill would add familial status and status as a family caregiver as a protected class under Minn. Stat. 363A.08, subd. 1 and related provisions. This means that employees will be able to bring a claim specifically based on discrimination for caregiver status, rather than another shared characteristic in a discrimination case, such as gender.

Another bill, called the Women’s Economic Security Act, would give additional rights to women and caregivers and promote the economic security and self-sufficiency of women. The bill addresses concerns including domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking and has broad implications for caregivers in the workforce. Importantly, the bill would:

  • Give women lease termination rights when they are in a domestic abuse situation
  • Provide a certificate of pay equity compliance to bid on a contract for goods and services in excess of $500,000 with the state
  • Offer appropriations for certain job training programs for women
  • Create a new 12-week unpaid pregnancy leave right and increase current unpaid parenting leave right from six to 12 weeks
  • Create a new pregnancy accommodation statute
  • Create a new “earned sick and safe time” requirement
  • Revise the nursing mothers’ statute
  • Create a new wage disclosure protection statute

The employment lawyers at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta have represented countless employees who have suffered discrimination in the workplace, including those who have suffered discrimination as a caregiver. If you believe that you have suffered discrimination as a result of your family responsibilities or you are experiencing retaliation because of your status as a caregiver, please contact our attorneys at 612-252-3570 to discuss the legal protections available to you.

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